Asian Provocateur - Review

Reviewed by Carolyn Watts

Asian Provocateur- Josie Lane-Hayes Theatre Co. 27/6/15


In this one-woman Cabaret performance, Josie Lane (Josie in the Bathhouse, Priscilla Queen of the Desert) describes herself as visibly Asian, though "not Asian enough" to be chosen for key roles in productions that star women of Asian appearance. Rather than fester or just give up, Lane has created an Asian inspired musical journey, told through her own stories and recollections as the child of a Filipino mother and Aussie dad.

Her musical performance played at Elizabeth Bay's Hayes Theatre last Friday and Saturday, to an almost packed house and a thoroughly supportive audience.

Though the wholesome stage set of Asian Provocateur is of Shoji blinds and tall, graceful palms; the emotional backdrop is, in part, the loneliness of a child growing up in a culture where she feels she doesn't belong.

The show's fabulously accomplished musical director, Matthew Frank (Britney Spears: The Cabaret), accompanies Lane's vocal journey seamlessly. The two are a formidable combination.

Lane's vigour and geniality bring fun and a degree of humour even to some of the more challenging subject matter. While parts of the content seemed unnecessary, Asian Provocateur is Lane's story; her energy is inspiring and her warmth endearing. She had audience engagement from the get-go.

Wearing a demure Kimono and Japanese headdress, Lane enters the theatre with a suggestive gait. She quickly sheds the kimono's modesty (with a momentary hint at burlesque) and performs most of the show in a stylised cheongsam reminiscent of the ubiquitous Asian poster-girl of the eighties.

Her voice is pretty and light in the upper registers and a powerful belter when she needs it to be. Through a variety of old and newer songs (Flower Drum Song to Disney's Mulan) her voice sometimes channels the passion of Edith Piaf.

The story of an often solitary girl who grew up feeling like an outsider is told with courage; the light and the dark of her world have been artfully written and drawn together with some of her favourite songs.

The intelligent narrative ends with her arrival at a place where the Asian face is no longer that of an outsider; Lane's rendition of ‘Reflection' from Disney's Mulan is delivered with grace, hope, and clarity.

Asian Provocateur states it is Adult Only entertainment; good advice, given some of the sexual descriptions that would make Lane's Catholic Filipino mother cover the eyes of the daughter she still seeks to keep away from ‘Adult' content.